Posts Tagged ‘ Joe Dallesandro ’

LOU REED REMEMBERED

Lou Reed Remembered

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Yesterday October 27th was just another Sunday morning apart from the fact disorientation had set in due to the official arrival of winter with the clocks going back encouraging me to get up at an hour unthinkable a few years back. The only other thing slightly out of the ordinary was the fact I had an overwhelming urge to listen to Lou Reed’s Berlin album.

Usually an album which requires a certain mood as it is a dark, despairing and harrowing listen with little recommendation or redemption for any of its protagonists, even if its message is cloaked in some of the most awe inducing beautiful music ever recorded. Suffice to say it requires melancholic tendencies and I was far from feeling even remotely down; quite the opposite in fact. Melancholy, despair and shock arrived  only a few hours later however as I would be overwhelmed with feelings of sadness  when news of Lou Reed’s death, at the age of seventy one, began to filter through on social media and was later sadly confirmed as fact.

 Two days previously had seen an internet hoax reporting Reed’s death spread like wildfire before it was announced he was alive and kicking. As far as anyone knows at this stage he wasn’t even showing signs of the symptoms which eventually claimed him so some scepticism met the original Sunday reports of his death. In hindsight this made the news even sadder as on one of his last days on earth he had to deny he had died then forty eight hours later he was actually gone for real. In some ways this was typical Lou- rising to a challenge-who many had predicted wouldn’t live through the seventies never mind into his seventies.

 Like many others of my generation my introduction to Reed came through that font of all knowledge, David Bowie, when he tried to resurrect the faltering career of his idol by co- producing his album Transformer with Mick Ronson. Many evenings were spent with a select, elite group of friends lounging on bean bags applying nail polish, smoking mentholated cigarettes and contemplating sex in the hall as we listened to this album with its tales of decadent New York and colourful characters- Candy, Holly, Jackie and Little Joe- who we discovered were real and, at the time, all  very much alive.

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 Other favourites were the New York Dolls, early Roxy Music, The Sex Pistols and Bowie but Lou seemed darker and more dangerous- look at how his made up panda eyes glared past and through you on Transformer’s metallic cover- promising a subterranean demi-monde where it was always after midnight and debauched glamour was the entry code. On top of all this he was the best singer ever and he couldn’t even sing. Perfect!

 Transformer provided a perfect point of entry to Reed’s work and before long I investigated and discovered his Velvet Underground back catalogue which totally blew my mind. To the point I still refer to their debut The Velvet Underground and Nico as my all time favourite album. It had everything; sex, drugs, sado-masochism, twisted love songs, thrashing guitars, Reed’s throwaway drawl, Nico’s Germanic icy cool and Andy Warhol’s Factory people. Here was a record which inhabited a universe all its own and unlike Bowie’s exotic characters Reed’s subject matter actually existed. Oh, how I wanted to be there!

 Discovering Lou Reed was akin to finding a guiding light in my life. He spoke to me through the medium of song in a way I could never envisage my father speaking to me. Lou understood and prevented me from feeling I was wrong when my surroundings were screaming at me otherwise. ‘White Light/ White Heat’, ‘Candy Says’, ‘What Goes On’,Kill Your Sons’, ‘Sad Song’ and ‘Satellite of Love’ are just some of the songs embedded in my emotional hard drive eternally. How also can I forget the perfect chords of ‘Sweet Jane’ or the auto biographical Rock ‘n’ Roll’? As for the blistering assault of the seventeen minutes of mayhem that is ‘Sister Ray’, which at its denouement still leaves me feeling drained, exhilarated, confused, relieved and hyperventilating all at once; well it may be a cliché but they really don’t make them like that anymore.

 Lou Reed meant something not just to me but to so many others and he will continue to mean something. At some time we all have to take a walk on the wild side hitching a ride on a satellite of love and obviously Sunday October 27th was when Lou felt that final beckoning tap on the shoulder calling him. I could go on but really I have only one thing left to say and that is ‘Thank You ’.

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JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just An Observation Friday  October 4th

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After a relatively quiet September-culturally anyway- after the excesses of the Fringe it would seem that Edinburgh’s artistic circle have stirred themselves. Possibly the most high profile opening this weekend is the Andy Warhol Pop Power and Politics exhibition being held at the Scottish Parliament until November 3rd.

Possibly the most recognisable and influential-in many ways- artist of the 20th century detractors always claim  Warhol’s work to be vacuous and lacking soul but this misses the point completely. There was a lot more intelligence in his work than is instantly recognisable and presenting culture as it was –albeit with brighter colours- was a bold statement that afforded his work longevity and ongoing scrutiny.

 Warhol himself is as recognisable as his works and emerges as one of the all time great self publicists. His influence and fingerprints are all over 21st century culture whilst his ideas still course through the veins of modern life. Reality television has its roots in Warhol’s ideas of sticking a bunch of previous unknowns and recording their actions and reactions.

The main difference between his early films and the abomination that reality TV has become is that most of the characters he chose to feature included great beauties, articulate talkers and interesting characters such as Edie Sedgwick, Joe Dallesandro, Candy Darling, Nico, Jackie Curtis and Gerard Malanga, all who operated in a vacuum of sorts and had something worthwhile to say and put across.

Compare and contrast with the never ending circle of Bianca Gascoignes and Louis Spences and it is clear how this ideology has faltered and become an instant form of creating a false celebrity. True the Warhol acolytes also wanted fame and celebrity status but deep down were aware it was never actually going to happen- of all his disciples only Lou Reed  really achieved international acclaim in his own right- therefore retaining some of their credibility and, more importantly, their integrity.

 As for politics Warhol’s work is shot through with politics although it is not always clearly apparent. The Chairman Mao’s, Jackie Kennedy’s, JFK Assassination works as well as his Andrew Carnegie portraits are all obvious enough candidates but his ‘Electric Chair’ is also rampantly political. It is a stark image which says nothing and everything at the same time but simply presents an object of death and allows the viewer to make their own mind up whilst drawing their own conclusions. Or not as the case may be.

andy-warhol-mao-1972-FS-II.93 Andy Warhol’s ‘Mao’

The Edinburgh International Fashion Festival team are also back next week and their involvement in the Pringle show at the opulent Signet Library looks like being a fashion event not to be missed. Entitled ‘Princess Grace: More Than An Image’. I am assuming the collection will be based on poise and elegance, two characteristics heavily associated with the former screen icon who became a bona fide royal after marrying Prince Rainier of Monaco abandoning her Hollywood career at its very apotheosis.

Although September was a quiet cultural month for me personally it was very active socially so now that October has arrived I am looking forward to more nights in. Matters in this would be assisted however if there was ever anything decent ever on the television. Even a series which started out as hopeful as ‘Peaky Blinders’ seems to have somehow lost its way and although it still possesses a great Nick Cave and White Stripes soundtrack-not to mention Cillian Murphy’s ethereal eyes and razor sharp cheekbones- the plot is flagging and the characters raise little empathy, never mind caring what actually happens to any of them. Hopefully the return of ‘Homeland’ for its third series this Sunday will raise the bar again and some decent drama will provide relief from the barrage of reality shows, singing and dancing competitions and ‘Downton Abbey’s’.

 Saying that my own guilty pleasure in the reality show stakes, ‘Made in Chelsea’, is also returning in the coming weeks. I actually annoy myself by watching this as the characters-I refuse to call them real people- are all obnoxious, smug, self obsessed and supercilious. Somehow I have convinced myself that I watch it to feel glad at least I am not like them and feel better for it but this argument is unconvincing as that would make me smug, self obsessed, supercilious etc. etc. and therefore I am no really any better than them at all. In fact it makes me worse as I am still interested in their lives-whilst insisting the opposite- but they are not even aware of mine.

 Let’s hope then that the programmers who organised the winter schedules have a new surprise up their sleeves. I hold out little hope for this however and may have to join the rest of the world by drowning in ‘Breaking Bad’ box-sets, hyperbole and obsession. Sounds like a good idea!

Photo at the top- Joe Dallesandro in Andy Warhol’s ‘Flesh’

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